So, you want to do your own photography

You don’t necessarily have to hire a professional photographer to take photos for your marketing campaigns. If your budget is limited, your timeline is tight, or you’re just trying to expand your skillset, use these easy tips to take amazing photos all by yourself. You can use a good quality camera or even just your phone. There are numerous photo editing apps and filters to help every amateur look like a pro.

Quality photography in 10 easy steps

1. The Rule of Thirds

Divide the frame into thirds vertically and horizontally. This creates 4 points of intersection, where the eye is naturally drawn; the visual interest of the photo should be at one of these points. This helps balance the photo and avoid keeping the action in the center box.

TECH TIP: With a camera you’ll have to imagine these lines, but some phones can make
the gridlines visible. Check your camera app settings.

2. Stabilize the camera as much as possible 

A shaky camera produces blurry photos so use a tripod whenever you can—they even have ones to hold phones.

3. Use a fast shutter speed 

This can also minimize the likelihood of blurry photos.

TECH TIP: Generally, you shouldn’t use a shutter speed that is lower than your focal length, which is the distance in millimeters between the optical center of the lens and the camera’s sensor. If you’re using a 50mm lens, your shutter speed should be 1/50th of a second.

4. Use the right filter

On phones, there are a number of filters to choose from. Even when using a camera, you can always apply filters and other alterations in editing.

TECH TIP: If you’re considering a physical filter for your camera, many photographers recommend a polarizer. This filter helps reduce reflections and improves the colors of the sky and landscape.

5. Create depth 

For landscape shots, a wide angle lens and a small aperture (f/16 or smaller) can help keep both the foreground and background sharp (FYI, an aperture is the opening through which light enters the camera; the smaller the aperture, the more depth and focus the image has). This creates the illusion that the viewer is really there. It is also best to use a tripod, since a small aperture usually means a slower shutter speed. 

TECH TIP: When you’re not shooting landscapes, make sure you’re focused on the subject of your image. If shooting on a phone, tap the screen right over your subject to tell the camera where to focus.

6. Do not use flash indoors

Camera flash is usually too bright and artificial looking. Try brightening the image by using a high aperture or ISO (measure of camera’s light sensitivity). 

TECH TIP: Be aware that a high aperture will cause the background to be blurred, while a high ISO can create a grainy appearance. Find the right balance for your photo.

7. Experiment with shutter speed to create interesting effects

The shutter speed determines how much detail ends up in the photo, but a slow shutter speed can be helpful sometimes. For example, when shooting a lit, moving object at night, a slow shutter speed (eg, 4 seconds) can capture light trails that are left by movement.

8. Try out color blocking 

This is when most of a photo is black and white, except a few select elements which are left in color to draw focus.

TECH TIP: This can be done during editing with Photoshop, but if you’re shooting on a phone, you can use an app called Touch Color to easily select the part of the image you want to stay in color.

9. Don’t zoom in

You will get a much higher quality photo if you just move closer to the subject rather than zooming in on your camera. Or just shoot from where you are and then crop the image later.

10. Try not to use a background that’s too cluttered or distracting

Altering the perspective of your shot can help you adjust the background to exclude distracting elements.

Our final tip isn’t really in the realm of technical advice. It is, however, the oldest law of learning a new skill: practice makes perfect. If you’re a beginner, you shouldn’t expect to produce professional quality photos on Day 1. Keep practicing, follow the tips we’ve listed, and you’ll see your work begin to improve. Eventually, it will be good enough to use for any of your marketing needs.

It’s always good to have a backup plan, so if you aren’t confident in your abilities as a budding photographer and would prefer a professional touch, a full service marketing agency can help you out. Email or call (914) 607-7888 for photography that can make your customers sit up and take notice.

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